Bizarro Back Issues: Dracula Fights The Silver Surfer Because of Reasons (1976)
Halloween is right around the corner, boils and ghouls, and that means that my fascination with the stranger side of comics veers ever so slightly towards the macabre. And for my money, there is nothing more laden with terror (and truly awesome comics) than Comicdom’s #1 Fear Magazine, The Tomb of Dracula! So what better way to celebrate Halloween than with the most terrifying tale ever told about the Lord of the Vampires?
You know, the one where he fights a guy from outer space who flies around on a surfboard. That’s scary, right?This titanic tussle happened in the pages of of Tomb of Dracula #50, from Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, and as much as I might poke fun, it’s a good one. If you’re not familiar with Tomb, it’s easily one of the best titles of the Bronze Age — the original premise of the sexy young descendants of Dracula and Van Helsing teaming up to bring down the Count still feels like something that could show up on TV today, and once it shifts over to Dracula himself being the focus of the book, it gets even better. That said, it’s still pretty weird that for the big fiftieth issue, when the book was in the middle of a bunch of super-important storylines, they elected to go with a fight against the Silver Surfer.
I almost wonder if this wasn’t Wolfman and Colan trying to cement Tomb‘s legacy by drawing a direct comparison to Fantastic Four. They already have the the little bullet on the cover declaring them to be the top “Fear Magazine” (as opposed to FF‘s “World’s Greatest Comics Magazine”), and when you think about it, Tomb was for the ’70s horror comic revival what FF was to superheroes back in the ’60s. In a way, it kind of makes sense that they’d use their big 50th issue as a tribute to FF‘s gigantic, game-changing Galactus Trilogy.
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but can you think of a better reason for Dracula to fight the Silver Surfer?
Speaking of things on the cover, though, I will take issue with the Surfer’s dialogue on the cover about Dracula being “the most deadly horror the Earth has ever known.” Believe me, I will be the first one to agree that Dracula is a pretty bad dude, but the Silver Surfer used to hang out with a guy who literally ate planets to survive. Dracula eats people, yes, but on his best day, I really don’t think he could eat six billion of ‘em at once. Not that he wouldn’t try.
Case in point, our story opens with Dracula doing what Dracula does, which is attempting to eat a young lady, calling everyone around him fools and dolts, and then flying off in a huff. He’s a little dramatic.
And he has reason to be, because while all this is going on, strange events are in the works. A weird vampire clone of Blade created by Deacon Frost is in the midst of a throwdown with vampire detective Hannibal King, stabbing each other with wooden knives while trying to recap the weirdness of this particular plot and setting up the eventual conflict in the next issue. More important, though, is cult leader Anton Lupeski, who has dreamed up “quite a unique” means for destroying Dracula. And he ain’t kidding.
See, at this point in the series, Dracula had more or less settled down, apart from the occasional murder. He’d married a woman named Domini and gotten her knocked up with his hellish seed, and taken over Lupeski’s “Church of the Damned” so that he could sit upon the Throne of Satan. It’s all very metal.
So metal, in fact, that Lupeski seems to believe that the only way to battle it is through prog. Thus, his “unique” plan: To magically invade the mind of the Silver Sufer and send him to fight Dracula. Again: If you’ve got a better plan for dealing with that guy, I’d like to hear it.
For his part, the Surfer is out flying around being morose about everything and soliloquizing about how much he misses his beloved Shalla-Bal, a pretty accurate summary of 95% of his activities over the past 50 years, when he’s suddenly hit with Lupeski’s whammy:
Gene Colan, y’all. That dude does not mess around.
Having been magically space-convinced that Dracula is a dire threat to mankind in need of eradication, the Surfer flies off to the Church of the Damned, busting through a wall and throwing around all kinds of Power Cosmic. Unfortunately, Lupeski’s mental intrusion has left him a little bit off his game, and he almost blasts the very pregnant Domini instead.
Which, as you might expect, is why Dracula lays the hammer down like Dolemite:
I think I might’ve actually been underselling Dracula earlier. Anybody who can backhand the Silver Surfer so hard that he’s still feeling it two pages later is a pretty tough customer. Also, always remember Dracula’s bat-shaped cufflinks, truly the high point of the Bronze Age.
In order to avoid endangering any other pregnant women — even if they are pregnant with the nightmarish spawn of the Lord of the Vampires — Dracula and the Surfer decide to take things outside. Once they’re out there, Dracula sets about straight up clowning Galactus’s former herald, swarming him with rats, tricking him into wrecking a nearby dam, and eventually just cold karate chopping him while calling him a fool.
As it turns out, Dracula has actually hit him so hard that it knocks the whammy right off of him, leaving the Silver Surfer wondering just what’s been going on and why he’s been fighting this guy — and also heading off a ton of letters from Surfer fans informing Marv Wolfman that um, actually, a wielder of the Power Cosmic would definitely be able to destroy a single vampire, thanks. The thing is, though, once the Surfer’s head is clear, he pretty much just leaves and lets Dracula go about his merry way. Which is, in case you forgot, killing and eating people. Kind of dropped the ball on that one, Surfer.
In the end, the whole thing feels like this weird little diversion that defies all attempts to figure it out, even for the characters involved:
You and me both, Surfer. You and me both.